6. Strange Days (1995)
The central concept in this film where people can record and relive other people’s memories is fascinating. The film itself is a tad dated but it explores the concept in an interesting albeit surface level manner.
Some aspects of the film like the memories being stored on a kind of mini disk player don’t age too well but the overall idea is a strong one. A sequel really shouldn’t bring back any of the characters. There’s no need to since that narrative was wrapped up in the original film.
Exploring the idea of recording and reliving people’s memories has an infinite amount of story options. It could take the Inception route and make it an action film or go arty with it and make it more life pondering. The best way to have a sequel to Strange Days is to just delve deeper into the memory storage idea and how that affects people.
Don’t worry about any of the original characters, just create new people dealing with this situation and craft a narrative around which memories they chose to record. It could provide an almost voyeur experience where the main character could have no life of his own and becomes obsessed with watching and experiencing recorded memories. It’s an open-ended idea that can be interpreted in multiple ways.
7. Pump Up The Volume (1990)
This is definitely a product of the 90’s. Some films have a timeless quality where it doesn’t really matter what era they’re from since they transcend generations. Pump up the Volume in it’s current state would really only work in a pre Internet age.
However in on era of podcasting where everyone uses their voice to express every possible thought and idea to a potential audience, where does a character like Mark Hunter from Pump up the Volume fit in? How can someone be an outcast and a social misfit in a time where we are all connected through our various social media outlets?
That could be a really interesting idea to play with for a sequel. Take a former outcast like Mark Hunter and either have him try to restart his radio career with a podcast or maybe have him running a radio station or podcast of some kind where he is producing a radio host who is edgy like he used to be.
That contrast of showing how Mark used to be the ultimate teen rebel who expressed his angst and frustration with American society, suddenly relegated to a dead end job has a lot of storytelling potential. Especially with the juxtaposition of generations where now Mark is the least rebellious one possible and his job is to oversee and censor someone who is just trying to speak their mind like Mark used to.
8. Zero Effect (1998)
How many people know of this film? It has a strong cast with Bill Pullman, Ben Stiller and Ryan O’Neal and the director Jake Kasdan is the famous director Lawrence Kasdan’s son.
This was his big debut. With all that in mind it’s surprising that the film didn’t take off more. Bill Pullman as Daryl Zero creates a unique persona where he is master detective who doesn’t know how to function in society. He is inept around people, writes bad music and drives his associate, Ben Stiller’s character Steve Arlo crazy.
It’s pretty much a modern day Sherlock Holmes story set in Los Angeles with Stiller as Watson and Pullman as Holmes. This is a classic dynamic but one that works well in Zero Effect and it could easily translate to a strong sequel.
Just take the Holmes and Watson dynamic of the original lead characters and give them another mystery to solve. Zero refusing to meet his clients in person and sending Arlo instead is a funny comedic idea but one that could be even funnier now with how everyone is connected to each other except Zero who just refuses to go online and lives off the grid.
Seeing that character cope with modern technology and fighting to stay off the grid will still maintaining his presence and reputation as the greatest detective around could make a for a fantastic sequel. Stiller and Pullman haven’t aged that much so neither role would have to be recast.
9. Mystery Men (1999)
Another Ben Stiller film, this one is a true underrated gem. It was popular in its day but the film received mostly mixed reviews. Over the years it has gained a reputation as a cult classic with such a great cast with Ben Stiller, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria and Janeane Garofalo. Even the great Tom Waits had a minor role.
We’re so overcrowded with superhero movies that we forget how unique and surprising Mystery Men was. There had been a few comic book movies around that time such as Blade but at that time the most well-known superhero movie was still Tim Burton’s Batman back in 1989.
The superhero genre was still in its infancy in Hollywood so Mystery Men’s timing meant it could stand out. By default it’s an unusual film with an odd ensemble of heroes. A sequel could expand on the misfit nature of the group. Other superhero movies have tried the outcast hero approach but the oddballs in those films are either too powerful or the film is about an individual.
A Mystery Men sequel could place the heroes in a reality where heroes like Superman and Iron Man exist then have these strange alternative heroes on the side trying their best to save the world but always finding the real heroes get their first.
Of course there’s a good chance they couldn’t use the real Superman character so the sequel could just make up a generic all-powerful superhero that is similar enough to be comparable. Then place the strange Mystery ensemble in this new world where other more powerful heroes get news headlines and the others are left wondering how to make their mark on the world.
10. The Big Night (1996)
There are very few good films about food and cooking. Some like Julie and Julia attempt to show the influence of food on people but for the most part the results are not as compelling as they could be. This is unfortunate since food is one of the few universal concepts we can all relate to no matter what our culture. For some reason most movies don’t know how to capture that passion people have for food or the importance culture significance it has.
The Big Night is an exception due to the combination of a fantastic cast lead by the great Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Ian Holm, Minnie Driver and Isabella Rossellini. The original movie’s film is simple, just two brothers running a failing Italian restaurant in NYC gamble everything on one big night to save their business. Nothing about that plot is really standout.
We’ve seen it done it many other films but what makes it work is the great chemistry between the characters and how the film refuses to resort to caricature or parody. The Big Night is a loving homage to food and a sequel could find a way to recapture that magic with minimal risk.
The best way to approach a sequel is to take the brothers played by Shalhoub and Tucci and show how they run rival restaurants years after the original film. It’s a predictable storyline but it would be a great way to reestablish the characters without having to spend too much time explaining who they are.
That way the film can focus on the heart of the story with the feuding brothers who realize that the business is not worth falling out over and perhaps after one of their restaurants fails, one decides to work at the other’s restaurant after being stubborn about doing so for the whole film.
The buildup to their reunion and the different ways they approach the culinary arts and the business could make a wonderful sequel with all the joy that the original film conjured.
Author Bio: Oliver is a screenwriter, born in London and based in Los Angeles. He has written/directed 3 short films (Lovely Day, Last Orders, Wayward), and one feature film (Chick Lit, starring John Hurt & Caroline Catz). He’s interested in expanding his writing horizons in various dreadfully impressive ways.